Lancaster's Grand seeks comeback

Lancaster is yet another community that hopes to restore an old downtown theater for present-day use.

Last week, Garrard County Fiscal Court advertised for bids for the restoration of the Grand Theater, a movie theater in downtown Lancaster.

When the Grand opened in 1925, it had 750 seats, plus a large pipe organ and a piano in a pit in front of the stage.

The venue closed in the 1960s, and at one time it housed apartments that have since been removed. Some surrounding buildings have already been torn down for parking.

The renovation is expected to cost $2 million or more. In 2007, the project received a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant that will go toward the renovation. By the time that grant had been announced, a non-profit group had raised $250,000 with a Community Economic Growth Grant and $140,000 in private donations.

Local leaders hope to make the theater a destination that will stimulate restaurants and other businesses, and bring more activity to Lancaster's public square, said Nathan Mick, Garrard County's economic-development director.

"We want it to be an active place for our community, but also a regional theater to draw people from Lexington, Danville, Somerset, Richmond, Berea and Garrard County," Mick said.

The renovated theater will have nearly 400 seats. It will host concerts, plays by traveling shows or local performers, and the screenings of classic films.

A feasibility study has shown "overwhelming support in the community and outside the community for the project," Mick said.

Bids for the project are scheduled to be opened on June 3.